These four 24×48″ fused glass panels are installed in the entryway windows of Jackson Middle School in Portland, Oregon. The windows are a result of the Bernstein Artful Learning unit directed by the 8th grade teachers Dave Molloy and Liz Kobs and completed by their 4 classrooms. 125 students met with me for 2 weeks and learned elements of abstract art and fused glass art techniques. Students were challenged to use four elements: color, line, shape and size to express and idea. After practicing with colored pencil to express a particular mood, the classes were introduced to the medium of glass: how to cut and break it, how to snip glass rods, how to heat and bend pieces of stringer and how to apply confetti and crushed glass frit.
The curriculum connection is the study of the U.S. Civil War with a focus on conflict as the overriding concept. Some of the significant questions included: What is conflict? What causes conflict? What are some different kinds of conflict? Why is conflict sometimes necessary when a party is unwilling to compromise?
Students experienced several masterworks during the unit – West Side Story, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” album which was written in response to the tragedy of 9/11. Student’s inquiry involved identifying and examining six different types of conflict, as well as analyzing the historical factors leading to the Civil War.
The students began working individually, then worked in teams of three to four. Students had to negotiate the conflict that comes with 32 students in a classroom working together. They had to employ conflict resolution techniques and negotiate a method for selecting one mural design per classroom. Although each class was divided into eight groups to make parts of the mural, installed pieces in the entryway windows are true to the original designs!